Published on 07 Apr 2023

Obesity and Health: World Health Day 2023

  • By: Jahnvi Ranjan
  • Medically Reviewed By: Sumita Thomas, Masters in Dietetics and Clinical Nutrition Services

World Health Organisation was established in the year 1948 as a specialized agency of the United Nations Organization (UNO). Member countries of the UNO focused on the need to create an international body to look after the health problems of the world. The need to have an organisation was felt in fields of research to better understand the causes and cures of diseases for faster and better results. 

Over the years, the WHO has expanded its interpretation of health. From being an entity that focussed on physical health, mortality rates and the curb of communicable diseases, the WHO now understands the aggregated dynamics of health. It defines health as a “state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”. 

The date 7th of April has since then been recognised as World Health Day. The organisation, since its establishment, is striving to make people understand the importance of a healthy lifestyle. 

Of all the lifestyle disorders, obesity takes the centre stage. Obesity has tripled globally from 1975 to 2016. Closer home, one in every four people in India is obese, according to NFHS (2019-2021). Thus, in this article, we talk about obesity and its implications. 

Weight, what? 

The body mass index (BMI) is a convenient guide for evaluating a healthy weight range. It takes into account your height and weight to show whether you’re underweight, average weight, overweight, or obese. 

  • If your BMI is under 18.5, you’re considered underweight. It indicates a high risk of malnutrition. 
  • A BMI value between 18.5 to 23 indicates that you’re in the healthy weight range. For most adults, it is the ideal BMI.
  • A BMI between 23 and 27.5 is the overweight range. To put it simply, the higher spectrum of the range indicates nearing obesity.
  • If your BMI is 27.5 or more, it shows that you’re in the obese range.

Having said that, BMI fails to tell if your overall weight is water, muscle, or fat and thus it cannot be used as an accurate diagnostic tool. Modern technologies like smart scales are the better solution to this problem. Smart scales are the contemporary version of your traditional weighing scales. These electronic devices track details about body composition and not only weight including body fat percentage, bone mass, and muscle mass. Thus giving comprehensive information about a person’s health. 

Smart scales use bioelectric impedance analysis (BIA) to calculate the required data. BIA sends a feeble, painless electric current through one of the legs of the person that travels back to the scale through the other leg, thus estimating the percentage of various body compositions. 

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The HealthifyMe smart scale is carefully designed to give you correct data coupled with the advantage of our pro coach experience. 

These together will provide you with in-depth insights and an understanding of your fitness journey. 

Worth The Weight? 

We believe all body types are unique and beautiful., But it’s important to be aware that being overweight or obese can lead to various health complications.

43% of people have a genetic predisposition to become obese. There are over 400 genes that have been linked to obesity or being overweight. Having one or more of these genes means you are more predisposed to obesity than people without these genes. One of the most common genes is the obesity-associated gene (FTO), which is found in up to 43% of the general population. These genes were helpful to us back when humans were hunter-gatherers, as they are believed to have helped our ancestors store fat and survive times when food was scarce. 

When you’re obese your chances of having a stroke are 64% higher, and the risk of heart disease rises by 28% and that of diabetes by 80%

According to a Global Burden of Diseases Study, 5.02 million people died of obesity in 2019 which is 6 times more than the number of deaths due to HIV/AIDS. Furthermore, People with obesity, as well as overweight people, are more likely to have cancer

Let’s understand the interrelation of various metabolic and lifestyle disorders with obesity at length. 

Destructive Constructions

1. Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is the disease most significantly impacted by body weight. For example, the risk of getting diabetes was 93 times greater in health research, which followed 114,000 middle-aged women for 14 years, among women with a BMI of 35 or higher at the beginning of the study, compared to women with BMIs less than 22.

Fat cells, particularly those near the waist, are involved in releasing hormones and other inflammatory compounds. Improper inflammation makes the body less sensitive to insulin and alters the metabolisation of fats and carbs. As a result, it spikes blood sugar levels and, eventually, leads to diabetes. 

2. Cardiovascular Diseases

Body weight is intimately related to a variety of cardiovascular risk factors. A rise in BMI leads to increased blood pressure, LDL (bad) cholesterol, triglycerides, blood sugar, and inflammation. These modifications increase coronary artery disease, stroke, and cardiovascular mortality risk.

Ischemic (clot-caused) stroke and coronary artery disease share many disease mechanisms and risk factors. A meta-analysis of 25 prospective cohort studies found that being overweight raised the risk of ischemic stroke by 22%, and being obese increased it by 64%.

3. Reproductive Health

Obesity can affect several aspects of reproduction, including sexual activity and pregnancy. Infertility was lowest among women with BMIs between 20 and 24 and increased with lower and higher BMIs in the Nurses’ Health study.

According to this study, obesity increases the danger of miscarriage, gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, and problems during labour and child delivery. The influence of obesity on male fertility, on the other hand, is less obvious.

Obesity may also have an impact on sexual function. According to data from research, the likelihood of getting erectile dysfunction increases with rising BMI. Its impact on female sexual function is less established.

4. Depression

Research suggests that the link between fat accumulation and depression is a two-way street. According to a meta-analysis of 15 long-term studies, overweight people have a 55% greater chance of depression.

Conversely, according to the same survey, depressed people have a 58% greater chance of becoming fat. This research tracked 58,000 people for up to 28 years.

Although the subject requires conclusive scientific evidence, potential explanations include inflammation, alterations in the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, insulin sensitivity, and social or cultural influences.

5. Respiratory Conditions

Obesity inhibits respiratory function through mechanical and metabolic processes. It can lead to two prevalent respiratory diseases: asthma and obstructive sleep apnea.

Obesity raised the probability of acquiring asthma in both men and women by 50% in a meta-analysis of seven prospective trials, including 333,000 individuals.

Obesity is also a critical factor in obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), which affects one in every five persons. As per a study, daytime drowsiness, accidents, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and early death are all related to this disorder. Obesity affects between 50% and 75% of people with OSA. 

Apart from these complications, obesity can also contribute to arthritis, fatty liver, gallstones and even PCOS.

Now that we understand the health issues associated with obesity it’s imperative to know ways to tackle it. 

Working Towards Healthy Weight – 10 Tips

1. Maintain a Calorie Deficit

The secret to not gaining excess weight is burning as many calories as you consume. In simple terms, the body should have a calorie deficit to burn fat and lose excess weight. You can track your calorie intake and output with the help of the HealthifyMe app. 

2. Eat Right

i. at More Vegetables

A study shows that increasing vegetable consumption reduced the risk of weight gain and being overweight or obese. Eating at least four servings of vegetables per day can improve weight-related outcomes in adults, such as reducing waist circumference.

You can eat fresh veggies 20-25 minutes before main meals as snacks or mini-meals. Enjoy roasted vegetables as a salad or poach them to minimise your portion size.

ii. Include More Fibre

The more fibre a food has, the better and steady the supply of energy. Eating less fibre triggers blood sugar fluctuation, causing hunger and overeating. On the other hand, eating more soluble fibre makes you feel full. Most dieticians and nutritionists recommend eating about 30 to 40 grams of fibre a day. 

iii. Do Not Skip Healthy Fats

A small amount of fat is likely to be present in whichever food you choose. Your body needs dietary fat, which is an essential fat, to function properly and lose weight.

Healthy fats increase satiety and help regulate hunger hormones, supporting weight management. 

If you’re looking to slim down, go for food sources of monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, and omega-3 fats. Make sure to keep your diet’s overall fatty acid profile reasonably balanced, as it will affect your metabolic phenotype. Do not skip healthy fats like nuts, whole eggs, Greek yoghurt, nut butter, salmon, olive oil, and seeds. Having said that, the consumption of these healthy fats should also be kept in moderation.

iv. High-Protein Snacks

High-protein snacks keep you full between meals. Instead of reaching for a bag of chips or a cookie, you need a snack with plenty of protein to prevent mindless munching.

Adding sufficient protein in all main meals can help manage between-meal hunger pangs. Try to pair protein-rich foods with ingredients that offer healthy fats and fibre. 

3. Pay Attention To Food Labels

According to the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India(FSSAI), a food product with less than 40 calories per 100g of food is termed low-calorie food. Make sure to read the labels on your food products and select low-fat, high-fibre and low-cal food.

4. Stay Hydrated and Exercise Regularly

The most important thing you can do to lose weight is to drink enough water and exercise regularly. Water is a natural appetite suppressant. Further, a study shows that drinking water increases metabolic rate by 30%.

You want to follow a consistent routine when you’re exercising to lose weight. It will help if you follow a calorie-burning workout that fits your metabolic phenotype and lifestyle. Running is one of the simplest ways to burn calories if you’re a beginner. Jumping ropes is another calorie-busting workout you can try. 

5. Get Better Sleep

Getting a good night’s rest can make weight loss less challenging. Poor sleep quality can lead to high stress and metabolic disorders, increasing the risk of weight gain.

Sleep-deprived and stressed individuals choose foods high in calories and carbohydrates as a coping mechanism. Chronic stress can lead to overeating to cope with negative emotions. Therefore, proper stress management and quality sleep are necessary for weight management. Stress management techniques like meditation, yoga, guided visualisations, and deep breathing can help. 

Caring For The Health Of Indians

Over the last 75 years, the Indian government has launched various policies and schemes to improve healthcare facilities in the country. Increasing internet penetration has facilitated the growth of digital healthcare in the country in the past decade. The advent of private players in the healthcare sector has contributed majorly towards its rapid growth. While India stays true to its commitment, organisations like ours help the country solidify its passionate efforts. 

The vision of HealthifyMe, the largest digital health organisation, to Healthify a billion lives in the next 5 years helps the country bring about a positive change in the healthcare sector and its fight against diseases such as obesity. Let us explain how. 

Healthifying You

We have revolutionised the healthcare sector through our technological undertakings. We intend to answer all your hows and whys that will enable you to make informed decisions regarding your whats and whens. HealthifyMe helps you change the way you perceive your health. Health is not about weight loss only but rather an overall sense of well-being. It’s about a holistic approach to wellness that involves mental and physical fitness as an indispensable unit.  The company is walking parallel and informing you about each, with time. Offering tips and lifestyle changes as an alternative to behaviour, environmental and physical influences

Weight management in the right way can happen when the body responds positively to food intake. Therefore, a healthy plating method is imperative for sustainable weight loss. 

It is here when technologies like CGM can be used to their best. CGM or Continuous Glucose Monitor is a small and powerful health-tech device that helps you track glucose levels real-time. This helps you decide which foods to consume and when to burn your calories. So it nudges you to make the right choices that stabilise your blood glucose levels. 

HealthifyPro is a complete package that comes with a Smart Scale to keep a tab 11+ body metrics, Metabolic Panel to keep a check on your metabolic health, Pro coaches to give you personalised feedback and smart AI assistance along with the advanced CGM experience at your fingertips. 

The CGM incorporated with the new HealthifyPro helps you get a consistent and holistic understanding of your health. It syncs with your phone and gives you concurrent data about your blood sugar levels. Your Pro coach can then review how your glucose changes with respect to your unique diet, exercise, medication and overall lifestyle, and help you create a fitness plan customised to you.

A Healthifying Advice 

Weight loss is a journey. One that requires patience, perseverance and persistence. 

The first step towards your goal should be acknowledgement and acceptance of the situation. Many of us fail to accept reality and live in denial. Contradictory to what it seems, malnutrition is a key contributor to obesity. We struggle with eating healthily and making good nutrition accessible to everyone. But we have a great opportunity to get on the right side of this battle by beginning to think differently about the way that we eat and the way that we approach nutrition and fitness. We’re all moving at such a high rate that we have to grab convenient foods. The idea of fast food was to save time, but all we are doing is borrowing some time from our future selves, only to realise it is our future that is at stake. We can’t make it a way of life – we have to get back to real, simple, clean good foods. It will save our lives on so many levels.

We must not constantly talk about tackling obesity and warning people about the negative consequences of obesity. Instead, we must be positive – positive about the fun and benefits to be had from healthy living, trying to get rid of people’s excuses for being obese by tackling the issue in a positive way.

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